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Finding Hope After Suffering a Stroke

MONTICELLO, IA(CBS 2/FOX 28)- The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics partner with Mercy Medical Center to sponsor a stroke camp for stroke survivors and their caregivers every year in May.

This year the camp was held May 2-4,2014 to recognize stroke awareness month.

"It's an opportunity for them to get together with others who have gone through a similar experience," University of Iowa Stroke Nurse Coordinator Erin Rindels said.  "New friendships are formed and they just have an enjoyable and relaxing weekend."

Friendships that Jeff Shaver, an almost 5 year stroke survivor, makes every year when he comes to camp.

"I can't describe it," he said.

Hope has become a familiar word for Jeff.

"There's always hope. There's always something he's learning," his wife Sheila Shaver said.

His family knows first-hand about the power of hope.

In 2008, they lost their home in the flood and one year later, Jeff suffered a massive stroke.

Doctors told the family that if he survived through the night, he would make it.

Five years later, Jeff's still here.

He suffered the stroke one week before his wedding anniversary and before his daughter's birthday. The Shevars will be celebrating their 14th wedding anniversary this June.

A celebration of not only a wedding, but a celebration of life.

"He has learned how to talk into the telephone and send a text so he can say 'I love you'," Sheila said. "He sends a text for no reason. I get those every so often-that shocks me and makes my day."

His family says this is the best year yet. Jeff is walking, something he couldn't even do until last year.

And, now that he's found his footing, he's determined to find his voice.

"He struggles until he finds the right words and then he finally gets it out. He repeats it ten times," Sheila said.

And here at Camp Courageous, Jeff has been getting in his practice. Because here, he's among friends where they can draw, make necklaces and play charades.

"Don't ever, ever, ever give up," Jeff said. "Never give up."

"Stroke symptoms are usually weakness or numbness on one side of the body," Rindels said. "It can be difficulty speaking, loss of balance, loss of coordination."

If you think a loved one is showing the symptoms of a stroke, call 911.

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